UN Resident Coordinator Serbia Statement on the occasion of Belgrade Pride Week 2016

Sep 19, 2016

© Claude Cahn / United Nations - Serbia

This year, as every year, the UN Country Team in Serbia joins hands with the LGBTI communities of Serbia and beyond to celebrate Belgrade Pride.

This year has seen major advances for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex – LGBTI - people and communities globally, throughout our region and here locally.

On June 30 of this year, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted in favour of a resolution condemning violence discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.    

The June 30 resolution establishes for the first time the new position of an expert – the United Nations Independent Expert on Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People. The expert is the first high-level independent expert of the United Nations system specifically focusing on the human rights of LGBTI people. The Independent Expert will report annually on the situation around the world.

Here in Serbia, the United Nations Country Team and the Government concluded the new Partnership Framework for the next five years. In addition to extensive commitments to strengthen human rights, this partnership commits us to support leadership and human rights-based changes of relevance for LGBTI people, from strengthening health care systems, to improving policing and governance, to advancing genuine inclusive education free from violence and intimidation and premised on the equal dignity of everyone. The document commits us to support advances in strengthening the celebration of diversity, with Government and civil society partners in the lead. It is in the spirit of these commitments that we stand here proudly with you today.

Our work is of course far from finished: throughout the region, throughout Europe and throughout the globe, LGBTI people are often not yet safe when they walk the streets; face misunderstanding from people even as close as parents and loved ones; face discrimination at the workplace, in the health care system, in housing and in education, and struggle to gain equal acceptance and respect in their everyday lives. The Internet is sadly full of people and groups advocating violence and discrimination against LGBTI people.   

The happy annual occasion of Pride annually reminds us that our work must continue intensively every single day of the year. We must be both vigilante in our solidarity, and vocal in our efforts to counter misunderstanding and hatred wherever it may appear.   

But we are confident that genuine and real change is not only possible, but is in fact happening all around us. This year, for the first time, a major Serbian mainstream popular musician performs at these Pride events, signaling that here – as everywhere – the human rights movement of LGBTI people is a just and righteous one, deserving the support of all of us.  In public life, more LGBTI people are recognized and assume positions of high importance

Speaking in the wake of the historic June 30 Human Rights Council resolution, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “Ending rights abuses against LGBT and intersex people is a great human rights cause at the heart of the UN’s founding mission. I am encouraged by signs of progress.  At the Human Rights Council, more than a hundred countries have accepted UN recommendations to curb violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  …We must do more to prevent violence, tackle discrimination, end bullying and ensure access to all services.  …I am proud to be part of the global fight against homophobia and transphobia.  I am proud of the UN’s contribution to progress. LGBT and intersex people are courageously addressing discrimination.  We owe them full support and leadership. Equality for them will benefit everyone.”

Irena Vojackova-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia.

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